Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Richard Wagner, Lohengrin - Bayerische Staatsoper München, Nationaltheater

Performance 2nd July

Last saturday I started this year's festival season with a performance of Lohengrin in Munich. The production from 2009 led by director Richard Jones has a very clear concept with ideas (building the house for a new family etc.) that are very clear but not really elaborated. Very often you get the message, but question the link to the plot. The stage and the costumes were created by Ultz. Some of it looked beautiful, some of it a bit boring. Alltogether the production part was not really exceptional but also not really bad.
The musical part was better, but also not necessarily on festival niveau. Lothar Koenigs conducted the Bayerisches Staatsorchester very clearly but I missed the magic atmosphere in his interpretation. Very often it sounded practised and uninspired. Still the orchestra did a very good job with wonderful accuracy and drive. The Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper was very impressive and gave a wonderful performance. Very balanced, harmonious and with great élan they sang the many great choir scenes very beautifully.
What I want to mention are the four boys of the Tölzer Knabenchor who sang the vier Edelknaben that evening. I never heard those parts sung so beautifully and balanced. One was actually disappointed that they did not have to sing more.
Markus Eiche was a very luxurious Heerrufer with a very elegant strong baritone voice. His timbre is warm, pleasant and his diction was very good as well. Christof Fischesser was a solid Heinrich, but lacked royal authority. He managed the role appropriately but was not really convincing.
Evgeny Nikitin sang the role of Telramund and seemed not very comfortable with the high parts of the role. Very often his voice was covered too easily by the orchestra. While his lower register seemed more appropriate for this role his upper register just seemed too strained and too uncomfortable.
In the role of his wife on the other hand we heard Evelyn Herlitzius. I do not know why but her voice sounds so much better at the moment than the last years. While still having a very rough timbre she was in better vocal shape and sounded more balanced. Whatever she did during the last year, it seems to do a lot of good.
As Elsa we heard Anne Schwanewilms who seemed to have a very good day. Her fragile bright soprano voice suits the role perfectly and her performance was very convincing. Except of a few strained high notes she gave a wonderful performance with great passion and clarity.
The titlerole was sung by German tenor Klaus Florian Vogt who is one of the Lohengrin's of our days. While having a very light and clear voice he tends to sound a bit unnaturally and sterile. His voice suits the role quite well even though I sometimes would wish for a bit more Italian technique and more legato instead of the harsh Sprechgesang approach which is cultivated in Bayreuth.
Alltogether it was a good performance but not really exceptional what you would expect of the Munich Opera Festival. However I would still give 8 stars to Lohengrin at the Bayerische Staatsoper.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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